Thursday 16 August
There May Be Trouble
A week or so ago I highlighted on these pages the upcoming changes for Novice Chasers that come into play from October 1st. And today it hits the front page of the trade paper - 'BHA in radical overhaul of novice chases'. When I wrote about this last week I had not been aware that along with forcing all horses to run in 1 Weight For Age Beginners/Novice Chase, they are doing away with 20% of the existing races of this type from the calender! I think this is a very bad step. Speed kills, and having 85 rated horses in the same races as 130+ rated horses will mean that those with less ability will be galloping out of their comfort zone, which increases the likelihood of fallers. Ask yourself - if you were a jockey would you like to ride an 85 rated horse, on its' chasing debut in a 16 runner race against far faster horses - I think not. This measure has been taken to provide more of a spectacle for betting shop punters, the majority of whom, in my experience have not one jot of care for the animals which offer them their gambling fix. Will it really do away with uncompetitive racing - NO - it will just mean a two tier market, with two or three decent horses at the head of the market, and the rest at 33/1 bar. There will be more runners but the same number of competitive horses! I will also like to see how much money you will be able to get on 'each way' in these races - and indeed what terms will be offered by those friendly bookmakers that we bend over backwards to.It boils down to one simple question -how will running a 90 rated hurdler in a Novice Chase make it more competitive??? Just one last point - how often do we see valuable small field races on the flat? Will these be done away with - nobody seems to metion those - are they not equally as uncompetitive as the existing Novice Chases? One just has to look through the cards today to see a £12,000 Stakes race at Newmarket with 4 runners,there are only 4 runners in a 0-85 handicap at Beverley, as opposed to 9 in the novices handicap chase at Fontwell, and 13 in the novices handicap chase at Stratford. I will have to look this up - but I think that betting turnover on Jumps racing was up last year - so why the changes to Novice Chases??????? Back at home and all those that are cantering are going well - Sam Telm is in particularly good form!